Anyone For a Smoke?


“This view shows the world’s largest pipe smoked by beautiful Wilson girls, during the North Carolina Tobacco Exposition and Festival held annually in Wilson, North Carolina.” — postcard caption.

I’m guessing that something like this wouldn’t go over too well these days, considering modern attitudes on smoking, but scenes like this were fairly common at tobacco festivals around the South, especially at the large annual event in Wilson. There is an excellent article by Blain Roberts on the origins of the “tobacco queen” in the 1930s in the Summer 2006 issue of Southern Cultures.

Destinations of Distinction

Hillsborough, the one-time state capitol and current center of statewide literary activity, has been named by the National Trust for Historic Preservation as one of the country’s Dozen Distinctive Destinations for 2007. It’s been a few years since a North Carolina town has made it onto the list. The National Trust has been publishing its distinctive dozen since 2000, highlighting Asheville in 2002 and Edenton in 2003.

Hillsborough Postcard

Charlotte Barbecue

Charlotte Barbecue Postcard

Charlotte, N.C., The Industrial Center of the New South.
Special North Carolina Barbecue.

This postcard was never sent, so there’s no postmark to give us an idea of when it was produced. I’m guessing that it was published around the late 1910s or 1920s. Although we have some pretty high-tech digitization equipment in Wilson Library, we were unable to zoom in closely enough to determine whether or not there is any tomato in the barbecue sauce.

Was the Old Well Red?

The Old Well

The Old Well, the symbol of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, will be familiar to everyone who went to UNC and, indeed, to many who have even visited the campus. But how many have seen it looking like this?

We have many historic photographs of the Old Well in the North Carolina Collection, some of which have been digitized by the Photographic Archives. These photographs document the changes in the Old Well and the area around it, but, as they’re nearly all in black and white, they don’t tell us anything about the color.

This postcard shows the well looking significantly different from how we know it today. Many of the postcards from this era are elaborately colored, and the sometimes garish colors are clearly exaggerated, however, there are enough different postcards showing the well with a red top that I think we can establish that the Old Well was, if not quite as brightly red as this, certainly reddish.

The postcard is not postmarked or dated, but shows the well with a hand-pump, which we know was in place from around 1897 until 1925. It’s strange to envision now, but in the early years of the twentieth century, the Old Well, the very symbol of UNC, wore the colors of N.C. State.

North Carolina’s Main Street

Fayetteville Street, Raleigh

Now that Raleigh’s Fayetteville Street is about to be returned to glory, I decided to take look through the North Carolina Collection’s postcard collection to find images of the street in the past. This great postcard shows Fayetteville Street in livelier days. The postcard is not dated, but I’m guessing that it would have been produced sometime in the 1940s. I’ll try to post images of the street from different time periods later this week.